The whole unification business is concerned with the Dirac sea of vacuum charges. Firstly, the spacetime fabric of general relativity needs to be unified with the Dirac sea of quantum field theory. Quantum field theory and general relativity aethers are different: quantum field theory has a particulate aether, general relativity has a continuum aether.
Above: everybody agrees that the vacuum contains virtual particles, but there is controversy over the energy density and the mechanism (although Heisenberg's energy-time relation governs the duration that any given amount of energy lasts before annihilation, it doesn't rule out causality, such as a model in which chaotic gas-type collisions cause the energy fluctuations and virtual particles). What are the detailed dynamics of the vacuum particles? Is the net energy of the vacuum zero or very high? Is Maxwell's displacement current model of light (where displacement current or vacuum charge motion in conjunction with Faraday's law of induction causes a cyclical field variation which is light propagation) correct and complete in every detail, or is the true model of vacuum dynamics different? How can a seething foam vacuum deflect light smoothly as it does in photographs of starlight which has been deflected by the spacetime fabric (gravity field) of the sun during an eclipse? Surely if the vacuum spacetime fabric comprised of a chaotic gas of particles, then light photons would be scattered and the light deflected by the spacetime fabric would be defuse and not sharp? A more realistic picture of the vacuum might well combine elements of both the chaotic radiation model and a more stable condensed matter-type (crystal or fluid-like) spacetime fabric. After all, in a real material there is energy dispersion both by collisions (conduction) and by radiation.
The idea that there was one system only for energy transfer and temperature was called the theory of caloric, and it was obsolete when the true, more complex, nature of heat became apparent: a combination of kinetic theory (impacts, hence heat conduction by electrons in solids and molecules in gases), and radiation theory (every body at constant temperature is both emitting and receiving quantum radiation at an identical rate as first suggested by Prevost in 1792; this sensible idea would have been tossed out as overly complex and crazy-looking by crackpot mainstream defenders of Occam's razor and Caloric, etc.).
For example, it could be that the vacuum particles form positronium atoms (positronium-electron orbital systems) briefly and similar matter-antimatter pairs of other particles, if they don't have too much energy. We really don't know, because we don't have the energy density of the vacuum (some think it is zero, some people think it may be negative and others believe it is nearly infinite). For this reason, sensible people like Lee Smolin and Peter Woit don't mention the aether any more than they mention life elsewhere in the universe; it is considered widely to be a topic overrun in the media by abject speculations and vulgar gibberish or crackpotism (like 'string theory' which is run by funny crackpots like Edward Witten, Jacques Distler, Lisa Randall and Lubos Motl). As such it is not a subject fit for scientific evaluation. But there are ways to calculate and predict phenomena which don't rely on specific structural or energy density.
The work by Dr Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute (his ongoing lectures are viewable on line at the Perimeter Institute site) is to unify the two by a description of the vacuum as an abstract spin network. If you sum all the interaction graphs for such a spin network (these were invented by Penrose) you get the Feynman path integral. This equates to general relativity without a metric.
How do you introduce a metric? I've showed this, but nobody listens. You look at the physical cause of the contraction in special and general relativity and relate them to a physical mechanism, by means of the widely accepted heuristic interpretation of quantum field theory: namely, that all forces result from energy exchange processes between charges. You need LeSage gravity mechanism for this.
In quantum field theory, I've shown that the polarisation of the vacuum around every real charge is what reduces the core electron charge from 137e to just e. Since 137e is the strength of the strong nuclear force at low energies, we are on to unification dynamics using simple concepts. Coupling between the electron and the Dirac sea causes the 1 + 1/(twice Pi times 137) = 1.00116 Bohr magnetons quantum electrodynamic first correction to the magnetic moment of the electron core, which Dirac's theory gives wrongly as exactly 1 Bohr magneton. (Further couplings give this magnetic moment to 10 decimals or whatever, which is the chief success of quantum electrodynamics, together with the Lamb frequency shift calculation).
Although Einstein presents two axioms or principles, he doesn’t show that his derivations are unique or have underlying mechanisms nor does he rule this out. Indeed, Einstein repudiated one of the assumptions of special relativity as follows:
‘… the constancy of the velocity of light. But … the general theory of relativity cannot retain this law. On the contrary, we arrived at the result according to this latter theory, the velocity of light must always depend on the coordinates when a gravitational field is present.’ - Albert Einstein, Relativity, The Special and General Theory, Henry Holt and Co., 1920, p111.
Since gravitational fields are always present, Einstein’s SR light velocity postulate has the same credibility as Euclid’s fifth postulate which claims parallel lines must meet at infinity (which also ignores the curvature due to gravity).
‘… the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light in vacuo must be modified, since we easily recognise that the path of a ray of light … must in general be curvilinear…’ - Albert Einstein, The Principle of Relativity, Dover, 1923, p114.
So string theory is only doing what SR did before Einstein and Hilbert discovered GR, with its spacetime fabric. In 1949 a spacetime fabric like a crystal was shown to mimic the SR contraction/energy formulae, in work of C.F. Frank, ‘On the equations of motion of crystal dislocations’, Proceedings of the Physical Society of London, A62, pp 131-4:
‘It is shown that when a Burgers screw dislocation [in a crystal] moves with velocity v it suffers a longitudinal contraction by the factor (1 - v^2 /c^2)^1/2, where c is the velocity of transverse sound. The total energy of the moving dislocation is given by the formula E = E(o)/(1 - v^2 / c^2)^1/2, where E(o) is the potential energy of the dislocation at rest.’
Given this length contraction, the spacetime principle gives us an identical time-dilation factor (because distances and times must be both shortened by the same factor). Given the energy variation factor above, we get the mass variation formula because of E=mc^2 which is implies by electromagnetic theory (i.e., light with energy has momentum which implies that the way to relate energy and mass is E=mc^2).
This procedure is empirically validated unlike the 'special relativity' (SR) of 1905 which Einstein later repudiated when he developed general relativity (quotations above). General relativity, which is validated with its over-riding principle of general covariance, the principle that the laws of nature are not merely invariant over inertial motions, but over any change in coordinate systems.
I mentioned mass increase just now. This is empirically validated, but doesn't support SR (any more than general covariance is the same as special relativity). Electroweak theory and its supporting empirical evidence lend support to the concept that mass is not merely a mathematical manipulation, but a physical effect with a mechanism of the sort we are describing: mass results because charges couple to virtual particles in the surrounding vacuum, which results in a miring like trying to move in a fluid (molecular fluids actually adds both inertial resistance and some velocity-dependent drag to the normal vacuum inertia of an object, but the vacuum's inertial resistance is not accompanied by velocity drag because the fundamental particles which 'feel' inertial resistance do so by long range force fields, not by physical impacts as occur between molecules).
There are four electroweak gauge bosons, the photon and the massive but uncharged Z, plus two massive charged W+ and W-. The last three were detected at CERN in 1983. The photon is involved in electromagnetic interactions, and the other three mediate weak interactions (i.e., beta radioactivity, which is the major means by which fission products decay; the weak force controls the decay of neutrons in protons, electrons and antineutrinos).
Electroweak symmetry breaking is involked to explain why of these four all but the photon are very short-ranged. Basically, at high energy they are all alike with a long range. By high energy, I obviously mean energy exceeding the energy of electroweak unification.
Below that unification energy, the vacuum attenuates the Z, W+ and W- bosons. The electroweak symmetry breaking is the process by which those particles go from being short-ranged to infinite ranged by gaining more than a certain threshold of energy (the electroweak unification energy).
Why does this occur? Well think about a small particle moving through a crystal. It gets attenuated since it has to continually break chemical bonds to make progress on its journey. However, if your particle has a higher energy, its transverse wavelength is shorter (remember the de Broglie particle-wave duality formula).
A more energetic particle appears smaller than the scale of the crystalline lattice and slips through without breaking bonds and losing energy. Hence, above the threshold energy for te vacuum, the Z, W+ and W- have an infinite range.
The vacuum field gives inertial mass to the Z, W+ and W- bosons at low energies (as well as giving mass to all other charged fundamental particles in the Standard Model).
At higher energy, ie at the energy of electroweak unification, these bosons are no longer attenuated (or whatever) by the vacuum field, and their range becomes infinite. The question is exactly how the vacuum field operates.
The mainstream mechanism is that the vacuum field is composed of Higgs bosons, which have never been observed. My approach is to build on heuristic quantum field theory, and this explains the masses of all observed fundamental particles: http://feynman137.tripod.com/
John Baez does an excellent job of contrasting the conflicting ideas about the vacuum energy at http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/vacuum.html
In Dirac’s sea, there are pairs of virtual particles which annihilate rapidly because they don’t have enough energy to escape and become real.
A lot is experimentally known about the vacuum, including the fact that it isn’t detectably radioactive, hence the random collisions of virtual particles don’t allow them to escape. Therefore, there is no evidence that the virtual particles are an energetic foam or chaotic gas, as usually assumed. They are more like condensed matter such as a crystal, with enough vibrational energy to upset the classical motions of electrons in atoms.
If you move at the speed of light past an electric field, you see only a magnetic field of intensity E(ie, electric field)/c.
What is the mechanism for the magnetic field?
Normally we don't feel magnetism from most atomic electrons because their intrinsic magnetic moments cancel each other due to their adjacent opposite spin alignments (Pauli principle).
Is the magnetic field we experience when moving past an electric field just an uncancelled magnetic field due to the asymmetry due to the motion?
Lorentz's E = v x B law is the key. For a TEM wave or electromagnetic energy generally, E = c x B. If this is a universal law (if mass is electromagnetic energy), it tells us about the nature of magnetism.
The normal cancellation due to the Pauli pairing of spinning charges gives us a mechanism for obtaining Lorentz's E = v x B law from the fundamental E = c x B.
What happens is that energy in quantum field theory travels along electric field lines between charges at light speed, delivering momentum and forces. It is normally in equilibrium. But when you cut across that field at speed v, you experience a net magnetic field because your speed interfers with the appearance of the cancelled magnetic field. At light velocity, there is zero cancellation and you see a magnetic field strength of B = E / c.
What is really important to realise is that magnetic field doesn't get made from the electric field you are moving past. Instead, it is already there in a cancelled form, and your motion just uncancels part of the magnetic field, allowing it to be seen.
Therefore the fundamental way to analyse the magnetic field is with E = c x B as the fundamental case, and Lorentz's E = v x B law as the resultant of a mechanism based on the asymmetry of cancellation caused by the observer's motion.
You then see that E = c x B as fundamental may imply that magnetism is transmitted by the spins of gauge boson radiation emitted in diffrent directions by a spinning electron. Gause bosons transmitted outwards along the plane of the spin will not have any net spin or magnetism, while those emitted along the axis of the electron's spin will be similarly spinning at full speed.
Hence the magnetism is strongest at the poles, and each pole is equal and opposite because the spin of the photons emerging from one pole will be clockwise while that from the other pole will be anticlockwise.
Similarly, if you fire a bullet from this spinning planet using a non-rifled gun, it not have any spin if fired from the equator but will have a clockwise spin (looking towards the earth) and one fired from the south pole will have an anticlockwise spin. The angular momentum of energy is a conserved quantity and so it is probably the magnetic force mechanism.
Comments on Guy Grantham's paper about Prof. Simhony's electron positron lattice vacuum:
It is a very well written and interesting paper. Unfortunately a few points it makes are bogus: it confuses the real radiation energy of the microwave background (2.7 K) with a virtual kinetic temperature of the vacuum. This is a falsehood, because the vacuum doesn't stop real radiation. It relies on a mediation mechanism by which real radiation passing through the vacuum give it kinetic energy. This seems wrong because gravity and electromagnetism don't depend on real temperature. Whatever causes gravity is independent of the temperatures ofthe planets and sun, and just depends upon their masses. Obviously, at very high temperatures you get unification, but it is absurd for the quantum vacuum inside me to be increased from 2.7 K (if I were in outer space, frozen) to 310 K now, without it affecting the radioactivity of the carbon-14 inside me and the potassium-40. It is plain wrong.
The vacuum does not heat up when real radiation passes through it, or the radiation would lose energy with distance and be attenuated. This may occur for short-ranged nuclear force boson radiation like W+, W-, and Z gauge bosons, but it certainly does not occur for photon radiation, which the cosmic background radiation is.
(1) Real radiation and real matter: quantum photons (light, gamma rays,radio waves, etc), real electrons and other real particles. The kinetic theory of matter and the quantum theory of radiation relate the temperature of this radiation with that of this matter.
(2) Vacuum gauge boson radiation and vacuum fabric: gauge bosons (mediators of nuclear and electromagnetic forces, and gravity), virtual particles. The cosmological model which suggests dark matter and energy is a falsehood: http://feynman137.tripod.com/ (this site also shows how you get all fundamental particle masses and fundamental forces from the effect of the vacuum)
Here is a discussion on the aether in a 2003 book by the U.S. National Research Council
Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century
Committee on the Physics of the Universe
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
'THE VACUUM: IS EMPTY SPACE REALLY EMPTY?
'While the notion of a vacuum brings to mind the ultimate state of nothingness (indeed, this is what was pictured by 19th-century physics), quantum theory changes all of that. Nature’s quantum vacuum is anything but empty; instead, it is seething with virtual particles and condensates. To 20th-century physicists, the vacuum is simply the lowest energy state of the system. It need not be empty or uninteresting, and its energy is not necessarily zero.
'Quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle tell scientists that the vacuum can never be truly empty: the constant production and then annihilation of virtual particle-antiparticle pairs make it a seething sea of particles and antiparticles living on borrowed time and energy (as shown in Figure 2.2.1). Although the Heisenberg uncertainty principle allows the pairs to last for only very short times, they have measurable effects, causing shifts in the spectrum of atomic hydrogen and in the masses of elementary particles that have been measured (e.g., W/Z bosons).
'The unanswered question is whether empty space contains any energy. The weight of the vacuum is certainly not great enough to influence ordinary physical processes. However, its cumulative effect can have profound implications for the evolution of the universe and may in fact be responsible for the fact that the expansion of the universe seems to be speeding up rather than slowing down (see the discussion of dark energy in Chapter 5).
'The second way in which the vacuum may not be empty involves vacuum condensates of fields. For example, the Higgs field in the Standard Model has a nonzero, constant value in the lowest energy state. The effect of this is to give masses to quarks, leptons, and other particles. The lowest state, the one we perceive as “nothing,” need not have zero field. Rather, the field everywhere has the value that gives the minimum energy. The nonzero field in the vacuum is often called a condensate, a term borrowed from condensed-matter physics.'
Further information: http://nigelcook0.tripod.com/